LONDON (Reuters) - Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will accuse Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday of hijacking Brexit to lead Britain out of the European Union without a deal and shift power and wealth “to those at the top”.
Johnson, a main leader of the campaign to leave the EU in 2016, has promised to deliver Brexit with or without an agreement by Oct. 31, a strategy at odds with many in parliament which has voted against a so-called no-deal departure.
Corbyn, an instinctive critic of the EU, has been at the forefront of efforts to stop a no-deal Brexit, backing a law to force the government to seek a delay if no deal is reached at a summit of the bloc’s leaders on Oct. 17-18.
Johnson says he wants to secure a new deal with the EU but has also expressed his preference for being “dead in a ditch” than request such a delay, deepening the uncertainty over how Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the EU will play out.
Addressing the Trades Union Congress on Tuesday, Corbyn will reiterate his message that Johnson was pursuing a no-deal Brexit, something he says will “destroy jobs, push up food prices in the shops and cause shortages of everyday medicines that people rely on”.
“And who bears the cost of that? It wouldn’t be Johnson and his wealthy friends. It’s not their livelihoods on the line. It would be the rest of us,” Corbyn will say according to excerpts of his speech released by his office.
“For the Tories (Conservatives) this is about so much more than leaving the European Union. It’s about hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth to those at the top.”
While many in parliament fear the impact of a no-deal Brexit, Johnson and his team say they have boosted preparations for such an outcome to try to minimise the fall-out from Britain leaving without a deal.
But with the future of Brexit still in the balance, Britain looks to be heading towards an election, with both Labour and Johnson’s Conservatives stepping up preparations for a poll and both sides targeting each other at every opportunity.
Corbyn will again repeat Labour’s stance to first “stop no deal, and then trigger a general election”, explaining that he had not backed Johnson’s request for an early poll because “no one can trust” his word.
“So a general election is coming. But we won’t allow Johnson to dictate the terms,” he will say. “And I can tell you this: we’re ready for that election. We’re ready to unleash the biggest people-powered campaign we’ve ever seen.”
Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Angus MacSwan